Choose the Right DC Emergency Room for Your Child

It’s 2:00 A.M.

Your child has a temperature of 104 and he won’t stop vomiting. You are heading to the emergency room. The emergency room that you choose could make a big difference to the health of your child.

When it comes to children, not all emergency rooms are created equal. In 2005, doctors at Johns Hopkins University assessed emergency procedures at 35 emergency rooms in North Carolina. The doctors found that many emergency room doctors could not adequately stabilize a critically injured child during a mock drill. The doctors were not able to recognize signs of medical distress and failed to order necessary treatments.

These weren’t bad doctors; they were simply used to working with adults. But children are not small adults. The signs of injury may be very subtle in a child, and a child’s condition can deteriorate rapidly. Most importantly, children can’t always communicate how they feel. A doctor who is not trained in pediatric emergency medicine may miss the signs of a life threatening condition in a child.

Children account for one-third of emergency room visits; however, less than 10 percent of emergency rooms have pediatric medical supplies and trauma doctors who are trained to work with children. This means that children are at risk of misdiagnosis, medication errors, and medical mistakes. Children are more likely to get the treatment they need in a pediatric emergency room.

Children’s Emergency Rooms in the Washington Metro Area

Washington D.C.

  • Children’s National Medical Center, Emergency Medicine and Trauma Center (EMTC)
    Children's National Medical Center at Sheikh Zayed Campus for Advanced Children's Medicine
    111 Michigan Ave, NW
    Washington, DC 20010
  • Children’s National Emergency Department at United Medical Center
    1310 Southern Avenue, SE
    Washington, DC 20032

The Children’s National Medical Center serves as the regional referral center for pediatric emergencies. The center provides a full range of trauma response and emergency diagnostic treatment for pediatric patients and has consulting physicians in all pediatric specialties.


  • The Charlotte R. Bloomberg Children's Center at John Hopkins Hospital
    Pediatric Emergency Department
    Bloomberg Children's Center, Ground Level
    Johns Hopkins Hospital
    1800 Orleans Street
    Baltimore, MD 21287

The Bloomberg Children's Center’s Pediatric Emergency Department is the official pediatric trauma referral center for the State of Maryland. The center is staffed with pediatric surgeons, pediatric anesthesiologists, and pediatric critical care doctors. Nurses are also trained and certified in pediatric emergency medicine.


  • Inova Children's Emergency Center—Fairfax
    Inova Fairfax Medical Campus
    3300 Gallows Road
    Falls Church, VA 22042

The Inova Trauma Center is based at Inova Fairfax Hospital and is Northern Virginia’s only Level 1 trauma center for both adults and children. The trauma center is staffed with board-certified pediatric emergency physicians and physicians in all pediatric specialties.

Although pediatric emergency rooms offer the best treatment for children, there are times when heading the nearest emergency room is the best choice. If your child has a life-threatening illness or injury, go to the nearest hospital. You can request a transfer to a children’s hospital once your child’s condition is stable. Always get a second opinion from your pediatrician after an emergency room visit.

Have you had an experience with emergency room doctors not recognizing or treating your child’s illness or injury? Tell us about it. Leave a comment below.